The Assam Cancer Care Foundation, a comprehensive cancer care network, and joint initiative of The Government of Assam and the Tata Trusts was formally inaugurated on June 18, 2018. The Chairman of the Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata symbolically laid the foundation of the 19-hospitals cancer care grid in Assam in presence the Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Amit Shah; Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal , Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu , Assam Health Minister Himanta Bishwa Sarma and a host of cancer care experts from all over the country as well as senior government officials.
The Government of Assam and the Trusts have set up the Assam Cancer Care Foundation, dedicated to setting-up of 19 modern cancer care facilities that will dot the state. Of these 19 facilities, 12 will be comprehensive cancer care centres on the premises of Government Medical Colleges in the state. Located at Barpeta, Dhubri, Diphu, Jorhat, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Nalbari, Silchar, Tezpur, and Tinsukia they will offer diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases. Another five will be adjacent to District Hospitals. Located at Darrang, Goalpara, Golaghat, Haflong, and Sivasagar, they will offer diagnostic and day care services, including chemotherapy. Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, will be upgraded to an apex cancer centre with education and public health research capabilities. The State Cancer Institute (SCI) in Guwahati will be expanded to a 500-bed South Asia Research Centre. The Digital Nerve Centre (DiNC) set up at SCI and will enable this virtual unification across the State. It will help guide patients from the community to the apex level so that appropriate referral mechanisms and appointment systems are followed. It will also provide tele-health and virtual tumour board services at all network facilities so that any apex facility nationally can be consulted easily. This will eventually lead to an enhanced patient experience by ensuring that patients and caregivers do not spend time at hospitals because of lack of information regarding the treatment process. Mr. Tata and Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma inaugurated the DiNC yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, Sarbanada Sonowal said, “The aim of this great initiative jointly undertaken by the Government of Assam in association with the Tata Trusts is to provide cancer care to marginalised sections of society and bring them some hope. I am very glad that the Tata Trusts have fulfilled their commitment by implementing this initiative as promised. I offer my sincere gratitude to Mr. Ratan Tata on behalf of the people of Assam for his great and philanthropist initiative for the state and the entire North – Eastern region. This initiative will benefit the people across this region, especially those who are marginalised.”
Ratan N. Tata said, “Cancer care in India is hindered by the lack of facilities, late diagnosis, and high cost of treatment. The Tata Trusts have resolved to tackle this by supporting the establishment of infrastructure across the country for high quality affordable care, and nation-wide screening and early detection programmes. Together with partners if we can achieve this, India will be able to dramatically increase survival rates, as in the developed countries. I am happy that we are able to join hands with the Government of Assam to achieve this transformation in the state and the region.”
This network will become operational beginning April 2019. It is designed to ensure that no patient has to travel more than a few hours for accessing full suite of cancer treatment within the public system so that care is affordable. The facilities have been designed to maximise patient comfort as they have to spend prolonged periods in the hospital. The facilities will be equipped with appropriate technology and task shifting tools so that the network virtually becomes one.